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Fri 2nd Mar 2018 - Update: Laine results, PCA publishes advice on MRO tenancy terms
Laine Pub Company eyes ‘exciting opportunities’ to grow London estate as it reports turnover and Ebitda boost: Multiple pub operator and brewer The Laine Pub Company, which is backed by Luke Johnson, has said it is looking at some “exciting opportunities” to grow its estate in London as it reported a turnover and Ebitda boost. The company saw like-for-like turnover increase 11% to £35m for the year ending 30 June 2017, while Ebitda was up more than 12% to £4.6m. Laine said enhanced customer offerings such as circus and cabaret performances, live music, immersive and arcade gaming, and on-site brewing helped the company’s London estate achieve 22.5% growth in like-for-like sales alone to £9.8m, while Ebitda climbed to £1.9m. Larger sites such as Four Thieves, People’s Park Tavern and Watson’s General Telegraph particularly “exceeded expectations for the year”. In January 2017, Laine Pub Company launched a range of craft beer under the Laine Brew Co banner. It also began servicing its estate from a new 65-hectolitre brewing facility in Adversane, Sussex, and upgraded its micro-brewery in Hackney, east London, to keg production to supply small batch and experimental craft beer to its London estate. Laine Pub Company’s North Laine micro-brewery is expected to begin producing small batch craft beer shortly for the company’s Brighton estate. Since the start of the new financial year, Laine Pub Company has acquired the Distinct Group, adding four sites and increasing the company’s London estate to 21 pubs and its overall estate to 55. This follows last year’s addition of eight pubs, six through the acquisition of New Pub Company and two from Flynn’s Pub group. Chairman Gary Pettet said: “We are delighted with the sales growth and the healthy margins achieved in the face of increased property, staffing and product costs. Robust sales have continued into the current financial year, particularly during the festive trading period when the company once again achieved excellent like-for-like sales growth of more than 6%. 2017 was our most acquisitive year to date. We have taken on some exceptional pubs and we’re enjoying integrating them into the Laine family. Our aim is to continue to grow the London estate and we are currently looking at some very exciting opportunities all over the capital.” Chief executive Gavin George added: “Discerning customers are seeking out more sophisticated and ever-evolving pub experiences, objectives we set out to achieve when we opened our first site in Brighton 21 years ago. Our first-rate management partners have played a key role in making our pubs the exciting and engaging ‘third places’ they are, and have ensured we are offering our customers an individual, personality-driven and highly differentiated experience in every one of our pubs.”

Pubs Code Adjudicator publishes statutory advice on MRO tenancy terms: Pubs Code Adjudicator (PCA) Paul Newby and deputy PCA Fiona Dickie have published statutory advice to provide clarity on the terms of Market Rent Only (MRO) tenancies following recent arbitration awards. They have reiterated an MRO proposal does not have to be by way of a new agreement. The advice stresses it is the content rather than the form that is important. Whatever the form of the individual MRO proposal, the terms have to be reasonable and consistent with the core principles of the Pubs Code – that there should be fair and lawful dealing and tied pub tenants should be no worse off than they would be if they remained tied. The advice states: “MRO is not the same as a negotiation on the open market and the pub-owning business should not take advantage of the fact a tied pub tenant has limited negotiating power. The PCA would be likely to find it unreasonable for the pub-owning business to offer unattractive MRO tenancy terms if the intention is to persuade the tenant to stay tied. The PCA expects pub-owning businesses to have meaningful negotiations with their tenants seeking an MRO tenancy. Tenants should not need to rely on arbitration by the PCA to get their Code MRO rights. Referrals for arbitration should be the exception and not the norm in the future.” Newby said: “The ability for a tied tenant to go free of tie is an important right introduced by the Pubs Code. Tenants have been facing high costs in pursuing MRO and we need to ensure these unnecessary barriers are eliminated. This advice gives a strong yet simple steer on what pub-owning businesses can reasonably ask from their tenants in an MRO-compliant tenancy and is a major step forward in delivering the MRO rights Parliament has given tenants. I expect it to lead to meaningful negotiations that mean arbitration becomes the exception in the future.” The full statutory advice is available at www.gov.uk/pca

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